Whether they’ll cop to it or not, Republicans are currently engaged in a filibuster of Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be Defense secretary.
Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma’s conservative senior senator, has attempted to place a hold on Hagel’s nomination. Lindsey Graham has indicated his willingness to do the same. Generally, such requests are granted as a courtesy by the majority leader, but Harry Reid has opted not to honor them in this case and has gone ahead and filed a cloture motion. Thus, 60 votes will be required for there to be a simple up/down vote on the nomination. As Jonathan Bernstein writes, there is no way to call this anything but a filibuster.
“What a shame,” Reid lamented after filing his motion on Wednesday. “That’s the way it is.”
Reid may simply have been speaking as a White House ally there, but he’s also a Senate institutionalist, one who - to the consternation of many progressives activists - balked at an effort last month to water down the chamber’s filibuster rules. Reid clearly believes in the unique individual prerogatives that the Senate grants its members and is loath to break with tradition and create new procedural rules and precedents - especially if they might come back to bite his party the next time it’s in the minority. From an institutionalist’s standpoint, what’s happening now with the Hagel nomination is very troubling.
Simply put, we’re in uncharted territory. Look at it this way: Hagel is on course to be the first Pentagon nominee and only the third Cabinet nominee ever to face a 60-vote requirement for confirmation. But even that understates it, because the other two - C. William Verity and Dirk Kempthorne - weren’t up against serious filibusters.
Here’s what Chuck Hagel should do, and I am not kidding about this. He should get up from his seat in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, open his shirt, tear out the shrapnel he’s still carrying around from Vietnam, and throw the bloody fragments in the faces of both Jim Inhofe and Ted Cruz. This is your new “rebranded” Republican party, Senator Cruz, who makes the heart of Chris Cillizza go pitty-pat?
“We do not know, for example, if he received compensation for giving paid speeches at extreme or radical groups. In my view, given the two letters he received, it is a fair inference to assume that he and those handling his nomination assembled that information, assembled his compensation, and the only reasonable inference, I think, is when they assembled it, there was something in there that they did not want to make public. It may be that he spoke at radical or extreme groups or anti-israel groups and accepted financial compensation. We don’t know.”
I have in my hand a list…
Later, after Bill Nelson of Florida called out Cruz for resurrecting Tailgunnner Joe, Inhofe chimed in and (as usual) you could hear the stupid echoing over Chesapeake Bay.
“I want to make one observation,” Inhofe interjected. “I think I wrote down the words Senator [Bill] Nelson was criticizing our senator there for implying that Chuck Hagel was cozy with terrorist type countries referring to Iran. I’d say he’s endorsed by them. You can’t get any cozier than that.”
I give up. I can’t imagine why the president hasn’t “reached across the aisle” more.
Despite mounting evidence that the greenhouse gas buildup in the Earth’s atmosphere is causing runaway changes to the climate – NASA this month declared 2010 the hottest year on record – several pollsters say the American public isn’t listening.
In a recent survey, Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change, found that the number of people in the United States who believe in global warming fell from 71 percent to 56 percent between 2008 and 2010. Just 34 percent of the public thinks there’s scientific agreement on climate change, down from 47 percent two years ago.
Enter the next phase of the climate education campaign.
Advocates recognize their chances for passing cap-and-trade legislation are dead for at least two years, maybe longer. But they want to make sure the public and policymakers don’t forget about the problem, especially with President Barack Obama insisting that he remains committed to lower-hanging fruit within the energy portfolio to try to get the job done.
Several key moments are ahead for inflection on climate science. Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is pursuing emission reduction regulations hotly contested by industry and Republicans. A wide-open GOP presidential nomination campaign will test the political sway of conservative activists who say global warming is a scam. U.N.-led negotiations continue on whether to extend the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012. And the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will roll out its next assessment in 2013 and 2014, covering all the key bases from the physical science to adaptation and ways to reduce greenhouse gases.